clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2010 MLB Playoffs: What Can Go Right (And Wrong) For The Twins

As part of our MLB Postseason coverage, Jesse Lund from SB Nation's Minnesota Twins blog, Twinkie Town, examines why the Twins, the A.L. Central champions, will beat the Yankees in the ALDS. And then details why they'll lose.

Why they will win:

Statistically, they're due. THEY'RE DUE! Beyond that, this seems to be a charmed season for the Twins.

A number of young players have once again stepped in and filled voids, but this time the Twins have veterans who can actually contribute in a positive way. Jim Thome, Carl Pavavano and Orlando Hudson have produced in ways that over-30 free agents haven't done in the past for Minnesota. They also have their ace in Francisco Liriano, who was one of the top-five starters in the American League. Joe Mauer is still the best catcher in baseball. The bullpen is one of the best in the game. J.J. Hardy had a great second half and is a great defender. Big contributions from guys at different times helped off-set the fact that every single position player that came north with the club in the spring hit the DL or was held out of a streak of games ... except Delmon Young (who had the best year of his career) and backup catcher Drew Butera.

The same goes for the pitchers. Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey spent plenty of time away from the team, Nick Blackburn was sent back to the minors and both Liriano and Pavano dealt with sore arms and shoulders at one point or another. But somebody was always there to pick up the game. Brian Duensing has been massive. Adding relievers Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes allowed the Twins to filter out the replaceable guys in the back of the bullpen.

Considering what this team has gone through with personnel, not the least of which was losing MVP-contenter Justin Morneau, there's no doubt in my mind that this team doesn't just have the talent -- it has the fortitude necessary to get through the New York Yankees. The talent has always been there -- hell, the Twins led in all three games against New York last October before getting swept. But there's a swagger this year, and a confidence, that I haven't seen in the last decade. This is the best collection of talent in Minnesota since the vaunted teams of the 1960s.

And here's the turning point in my mind between the Twins and the Yankees: Jason Kubel's grand slam off Mariano Rivera on May 16 that gave the Twins their first win in New York since 2007. It wasn't just the win, it was the symbolic nature of it -- Rivera had owned Kubel, most notoriously in the '04 ALDS when he made the then-rookie look like a six-year old. This Twins team CAN win in New York, and they'll do it again.

Why they will lose:

Um...because they're playing the Yankees?

Minnesota hasn't won a playoff game since 2004, and hasn't won a playoff series since their re-emergence in 2002. Every year since '02, it's been the Bombers who have knocked the Twins out. Three games to one in the '03 ALDS. The same in '04. Sweeps in '06 and '09. That's ugly. It's to the point where portions of the fanbase think, rightly or wrongly, that the Twins believe they can't beat the Yankees. They believe there's a stigma attached to this postseason matchup, and considering the history, I can't blame them.

And also, the Yankees are a pretty damned good team. That doesn't hurt their chances either.